After the transition to democracy in 1994, South Africa emerged as a society with a variety of inherent problems. The legacy of racial, gender and urban/rural inequality inherited from the policies of the previous government had a negative impact on the living conditions of certain sectors of the population. These policies affected the provision of basic services such as water and electricity, the provision of housing, and access to education, health care and employment. Since 1994 the government has been addressing these imbalances. Particular attention has been paid to improving the living conditions of rural communities, women and the youth. Using data from Census ’96, this report presents a comprehensive picture of the youth of South Africa. Areas highlighted include the demographic profile, marital status and childbearing patterns, access to education and participation in the labour market. The statistics presented in the study provide a baseline measurement to facilitate planning, implementation and monitoring of policies for developing youth as an important sector of the population. According to the National Youth Act of 1996, youth in South Africa are defined as persons in the age group 14 to 35 years. This age bracket is used in most instances to define youth in this report. However, in some sections of the report this age bracket differs somewhat. For example, as 15 is the age at which children are permitted formally to enter the labour market, this age is used as the lowest age in the chapters on employment and unemployment. Breakdowns by five-year age groups exclude 14 year olds and 35 year olds. Another deviation from the defined age category is in the case of childbearing, where 12 years is used as the lowest age in the age bracket. This was prompted by the fact that a small percentage of girls have a first child at age 12 or 13.